Bing Crosby dreamt of a ‘White Christmas – just like the ones he used to know.’ This humble scribe isn’t dreaming of a white Christmas. In fact, come to think of it, no white Christmas springs to mind – apart from those I spent in the Canadian bush.
Christmas is a time for nostalgia and ‘dreaming’ of times past – but like all of nostalgia, we will only remember the best bits.
This ‘Covid Christmas’ will be very different for most readers: But wasn’t every Christmas ‘different?’ Think about it … there were no two identical Christmases in your life! This is why this year will be your best Christmas – because it is the only one you have!
My mother spent the last nine years of her life in the fantastic St Camillus Nursing Home. She loved it there, but her regular visits ‘home for the day’ were the highlights of her twilight years. Here is the point: After every visit home, as I drove Mam back to her ‘new house’, without exception, she always made the remark; ‘this was the best family gathering ever!’ I like to think this is how it is with Christmas.
The ones behind us are gone for good, and if there are more ahead, they don’t belong to any of us yet. The only Christmas we have is this one – so let us all determine not to focus on its ‘difference’, but instead to concentrate on being happy with what we have and enjoy it. Remember a person can be as happy as they choose to be.
All Christmas Days are different. I vividly recall my childhood and not being able to sleep with the anticipation of Santa’s sleigh landing on our roof. Those were poorer times, when the sleigh was never overloaded – but the joy of Christmas was none the less for getting less.
Like most people who are parents, my warmest glow dates back to when my children were small and Pamela and I could live the magic of Christmas though the wondrous eyes of a child. Nothing stays the same, but, thank God, our grandchildren now play that role for us.
Yes, this Christmas will be a different ‘best Christmas’ for me; but I could tell you some stories of my past Christmases of difference! When I was 21, I ‘celebrated’ a Christmas Day hungover and hungry (in that order!) in a flat in England.
Entirely my own fault – as the good English friends would have fed me; but I had partied the day before, not realising that no place was open on Christmas Day. As against this, I spent one in utmost luxury in Los Angeles and a couple more in salubriously extravagant far-flung places.
As mentioned above, a North American mining camp was where Santa failed to find me for a couple of years in a row – but I was among friends and we had some fun!
We have had wonderful Yuletide experiences in Spain – especially during the early years of ‘Paddy’s Point, but ’tempus fugit’, and as both Pamela’s mother and my mother didn’t have many Christmases left, we vowed to spend their remaining ones at home with them.
So … in this year of dramatic difference, Mrs Youcantbeserious and I will sit across the turkey-table with nobody else but the two of us. We shall simply be happy for being alive and healthy. This is back where it all started because on a Christmas Eve with a difference, exactly fifty years ago, we got engaged!
Yes, my friends; Christmas changes all the time – and so do we. The secret is to embrace that change and not to hanker after what it is we cannot have. Be happy in the ‘now.’
On Christmas morning we shall join in an online Mass. Then again, through the miracle that is modern technology, I shall once again be moved by the sparkle of children’s eyes, courtesy of ‘Zoom.’
Next year will be different …!
I want to wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas. Thank you for your messages throughout the year, your encouraging words – and especially for putting me right when I get it wrong!
Over forty years of newspaper writing, my last word in the Christmas editions is always reserved for exiles who long to be home for Christmas, but cannot make it. I have been there and so can identify with you. This year there are more of you out there. Make the best of the Christmas you have – because next year is coming … and every Christmas is different!!
Nollaig shona daoibh go lḗir.